Shreyas Talpade takes us behind the scenes of Golmaal Again!!!, the latest instalment in the much-loved Golmaalfranchise. The actor talks to Bhakti Mehta about the challenges he faced while making the film, coming off a lull phase and his rapport with director Rohit Shetty.
You have been a part of three Golmaal instalments. How has your character changed from the last film to the one in Golmaal Again!!!?
We wanted to change my character a bit but still wanted him to have a quirk. He stammered a little the last time and that caused certain problems. Rohit (Shetty) said we do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so let’s try something else. So the writers came up with the idea of Laxman having a lisp, and I was, like, let’s go for that.
But I did have some reservations as my character’s stammering had a distinct quality and I didn’t know if the audience would like the lisp. But when you start performing in front of the camera, the technicians give you the tick mark of approval. They started to imitate that lisp and since it was connecting with people, I figured we were on the right track. On the second day itself, even Rohit started talking to me with a mock lisp. If no one had picked up on the lisp, then you know kuch gadbad hai. Also, Rohit gives us a lot of freedom to improvise and, when he likes something, we continue to do it in the same manner. It is great that people love the character, the role and the lori that I sing in the film.
Were there any challenges while adding the lisp to your character?
On the first day, I realised I shouldn’t overdo the lisp. I couldn’t underplay or overdo it. The challenge was maintaining a balance. But everyone, from Rohit to the writers to our team of five boys, kept telling me ki zyada laga toh thoda kamand vice-versa. I remember Rohit telling me on the second day to play the lisp a little more, and when I took it a notch higher, he really liked it. We also made certain alterations while dubbing for it.
Another big challenge was not cracking up while doing a scene. Some of the scenes were so funny that at least one of us would begin to crack up. And, usually, we had the entire cast of 15 actors in one frame, so if one person laughed, everyone would tease them. When all of us managed to keep a straight face, our director would start laughing. So that was a huge challenge. This was one of my best shooting experiences, even more than the other two Golmaal movies.
There haven’t been many ensemble films lately as the competition is intense. How was it different on the sets of Golmaal Again!!!?
I think Golmaal is one of the most secure sets, ever. When we were told that Golmaal Again!!! was being made after seven years, we were extremely happy and I am sure none of us asked what the script was about. It was like Golmaal ban rahi hai, chalo karte hai. No one worried about kya role hai mera. Rather than us bringing something to the set, we were actually taking something back!
Everybody was excited and charged and nobody was insecure about how many lines and scenes they had in the film. If this was another movie featuring 15 actors, this would have probably been an issue. But with Golmaal, it was never a concern. It had a magical quality.
You seem to have a special relationship with Rohit Shetty. What is your experience with him on and off the set?
Rohit is exactly the same on the set as he is off of it. He is the same person that I met during the second Golmaal and if he has changed, it is only for the better. He has a fun time but he has become more focused and hard-working than he used to be. If he is not happy with a particular scene, he would be, like, let’s take a break and do it tomorrow or let’s chill and play cricket for a while before getting back to it.
Also, he is a director who thinks about how to give back to the audience. He puts a lot of effort into everything. He also informs us about technicalities like the kind of lenses he uses to shoot, and this makes a big difference to an actor’s performance. He is also very chill on the sets and I have never once seen him use cuss words. He also loves being on the Golmaal set as the series has a very special place in his heart. It’s a great learning process to be with Rohit.
And what about the rest of your Golmaal family?
The Golmaal family just keeps getting bigger and better. The bond also keeps getting better. Pari (Parineeti Chopra) mentioned the other day that she is taking back a whole bunch of new friends for life. It’s the same with me. These are my friends and I know I can call on them any time and they will be there. That is why no one is insecure on the Golmaal set. There has been a seven-year gap between the movies but when we are back working together, we pick up where we left off. In today’s times, given the kind of competition around us, it is a blessing to have friends like these.
Some of your recent films have not fared well at the box office. After that, what does this phenomenal success feel like?
Every one of us has gone through a lull phase, where our films have not worked. So, when a film like Golmaal is announced in the middle of this, it is natural for expectations to be high. People think that iski last two to three movies toh chali nahi but Golmaal kar lenge. There is pressure to deliver. It’s a big responsibility to take it from the third part to the fourth one. If we hadn’t managed to pull it off properly, then bahut gaaliyan padti thi.
But the response has been great. People from the industry like David Dhawanji, Vidya Balan, Ramesh Tauraniji and others have been messaging to congratulate me after 7-8 years. It feels amazing. We also went to Gaiety (cinema) to see the audience’s reaction, which is what actors work for. We were sitting at the back and taking note of how the audience was laughing, whistling and clapping at scenes and jokes. It was phenomenal to get so much love.